EPA Speaks Out on Keystone Pipeline  

The Keystone XL Pipeline, which would carry roughly 830,000 barrels of tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast in the US, has been one of the most polarizing issues in American politics over the past few years. Environmentalists recognize that the pipeline will do little more than encourage continued tar sands extraction, one of the most carbon-intensive oil production methods on the planet. Supporters of heavy industry see the pipeline as a crucial piece of infrastructure that will create a more robust economy including jobs and increased energy security (although the Keystone would produce very few permanent jobs). President Obama has stated that the future of the pipeline project depends on whether or not it will contribute further to climate change.

Protestors oppose the Keystone Pipeline at a Rally
Protestors oppose the Keystone Pipeline at a Rally in Washington, DC

This week, the EPA weighed in on the State Department’s environmental impact statement, using authority granted by the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The letter sent to the State Department from the EPA outlines their findings that the pipeline would indeed contribute to climate change. The production, transport, and refining processes, and the burning of the final product would result in an additional 1.3 -27.4 million metric tons of CO2 each year. On the high end, that’s equivalent to the GHG emissions from 5.7 million passenger vehicles or 7.8 coal-fired power plants. With oil prices currently lower than most economists expected, construction of the pipeline would make it cheaper to transport tar sands oil than the current method of shipping it by rail, and would most likely result in increased tar sands production.

Although Congress has voted many times in attempt to pass the pipeline without presidential authority, the project remains to be approved. The President has vowed to veto any attempt to force the pipeline into construction before environmental assessments were turned in and considered. The EPA’s comments all but confirm that the pipeline will contribute to climate change, in the face of massive skepticism and denial from supporters of the project. The letter may give the president the confidence he needs to stand up to fossil fuel interests and knock down further attempts at its passage. To learn more about the effort to block the construction of the pipeline, click here, here, and here. You can also take action with Green America, urging President Obama to veto the pipeline

President Obama clears the air on Keystone XL



For many months, it’s been hard to determine the President’s exact position on the Keystone XL pipeline.  The President has frequently said that he is relying on the State Department’s review of the pipeline in order for the Secretary of State to decide whether to approve or reject it, and that review has been delayed several times.

However, with the House of Representatives’ vote today in favor of the Keystone XL, the President made his clearest statement yet on the pipeline, and it was breath of fresh air.  According to the Washington Post:

In a news conference Friday in Burma, the president rejected two of the most frequent arguments the project’s proponents have made on its behalf, saying he had “to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices.”

“It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land down to the Gulf where it will be sold to everyone else,” he said. “It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”

These are two of the most potent critiques of the pipeline, and are completely based in fact.  Analysis from Cornell Global Labor Institute demonstrates that the Keystone XL will only produce 35 permanent jobs.  No one disputes that oil produced by the Keystone XL is destined for boats that will take if overseas. The Keystone XL will provide no benefit for average Americans or the American economy as a whole. The statements likely mean that President Obama will veto any legislation requiring that the US move forward with the Keystone XL.

The President could have gone even further and noted that the Keystone XL will also expand tar sands production, a technology that has devastating local impacts and huge climate impacts. He has said that his administration will reject Keystone if it will “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” which it certainly will do. In light of the historic US-China agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the US needs to invest in rapidly escalating clean energy, not projects that increase carbon intensive energy worldwide.

Hopefully, the next announcement on climate from President Obama will be about scaling up clean energy in the US.  Here at Green America, we’d recommend that the President get behind Clean Energy Victory Bonds, which will allow all Americans to safely invest in the clean energy economy, and provide $50 billion for solar, wind and energy efficiency.

Obama Delays Keystone XL Decision; Cowboys & Indians Rally

The Cowboy and Indian Alliance Opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline
The Cowboy and Indian Alliance Opposes the keystone XL Pipeline
The Cowboy and Indian Alliance has five days of actions now underway in Washington, DC, culminating on April 26, 2014, to urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and to educate the public on the pipeline’s dangers. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance is a coalition of tribal communities, ranchers and farmers living along the proposed route for the KXL pipeline. Their goal is to “Reject & Defend” — that is — to reject this dirty and dangerous fossil fuel project and to defend the earth’s resources (land, water, and climate) for future generations. On April 26th, thousands will gather on the National Mall for a tipi ceremony and procession. A tipi will be decorated with the Indian names bestowed on President Obama by Montana’s Crow Nation and the Lakota tribe and with symbols for protection of land and water.

In a move embraced by those opposed to the pipeline, just as activists were preparing for this week of actions, the Obama administration decided to extend the review period on the Keystone XL pipeline. It now seems likely that a final decision on whether or not the KXL will be constructed will be made after the November 4 Congressional elections. On April 18, the Administration announced that more time was needed for federal agencies to review the 2.5 million public comments made on the KXL and also to see the outcome of a lawsuit in Nebraska concerning the pipeline’s route. In February, a Nebraskan district court overturned a law that permitted the pipeline and there is no set date for Nebraska’s Supreme Court to address the issue.

The pipeline has been in review by the State Department since 2008. There is more than sufficient evidence to conclude that this pipeline, for the export of tar sands oil, is not in the interest of the American people, nor in the interest of our planet. For those who can come to Washington, DC this Saturday, help us send the “reject and defend” message to the White House. Sign up today here.

State Department on Keystone XL Pipeline: Contributes to Climate Change

KXLLate in the day on Friday, January 31, 2014 the State Department released its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Project. The new report contains the important statement that “The total direct and indirect emissions associated with the proposed Project would contribute to cumulative global GHG emissions.” This is a crucial, over-due acknowledgement by the State Department and an important one because President Obama has stated that climate impacts will influence his decision-making on the pipeline: “Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest, and our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

Unfortunately, the report also states that “approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed Project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands….” So advocates both for and against the pipeline are finding support for their positions in the latest governmental report. The report is not definitive in its assessment and is flawed in a number of ways:

• The report fails to capture the full scope of the climate, environmental, economic and health consequences of proceeding with the Keystone XL pipeline. For a more comprehensive understanding of the pipeline’s contributions to the climate crisis read Fail: How the Keystone XL Pipeline Fails the Climate Test.  And for a more truthful assessment of the job creation potential of the pipeline, contrasted with the claims touted by the oil industry, read the Cornell report Pipedreams: Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In addition to the Cornell research, the State Department itself has concluded that ultimately the pipeline would only create merely 35 permanent jobs.

• The report has been issued amidst unresolved conflict of interest charges between the State Department’s research contractor and TransCanada, the pipeline company. The very credibility of the report is in question as highlighted and investigated by Friends of the Earth.

The reasons Green America as well as Nobel laureates, environmentalists, small businesses, ranchers, farmers, physicians, indigenous communities, and many others opposed the pipeline several years ago remain the same:

• The pipeline will exacerbate the climate crisis. The dirty tar sands oil production process alone generates three times as much global warming pollution as conventional crude oil generates.

• Tar sands extraction and transport will result in leaks and spills that harm human health, especially in indigenous communities and those along the pipeline route.

• Tar sands extraction and transport will pollute and harm the environment including water, land, forests, air, and wildlife.

• Only 35 permanent jobs will result from the project.

• The pipeline will not increase US energy security because the oil is intended for export from the Gulf of Mexico.

• The sustainable business community opposes the Keystone XL pipeline because it takes our nation in the wrong direction economically and is bad for business over the long term.

• We need to move immediately toward mass investment in clean energy and energy efficiency to secure our energy needs, decrease carbon pollution, and create millions of good domestic jobs.

Hundreds of vigils are taking place nationally today, opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and calling for a clean energy future. We need every American to urge President Obama to live up to his words and to take strong action on climate. The President can be the climate leader the times demand by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline now.

Keystone XL Decision – in 2014? Or, the President Could Just Say No Now. New Report Reaffirms KXL Fails the Climate Test

Looks like there will be further delay when it comes to the White House’s determination whether or not to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. Conflicts of interest have come to light that call into question the validity of the latest environmental impact statement on the pipeline. The Office of the Inspector General is investigating concerns that Environmental Resources Management, the contactor responsible for the environmental impact statement, had worked for the prospective pipeline builder (TransCanada Corp.)  and for other oil interests that would benefit financially from the KXL.

So while we expected a Presidential decision on the KXL any time now – the Administration isn’t likely to make a move before the Inspector General’s report next year. This buys us more time to oppose the pipeline. On the other hand, Mr. President, why not cut to the chase and oppose the Keystone XL pipeline now, in accordance with your commitment to reducing carbon pollution?

newcoverToday, Green America joined our colleague organizations in the release of a report authored by the Sierra Club and Oil Change International, “Fail: How the Keystone XL Pipeline Flunks the Climate Test.” The report compiles all the information that the President and the public need to understand the wisdom and necessity of halting the Keystone XL pipeline – now and forever.

Oil Spills — There is Damage That Cannot Be Undone

This past weekend’s New York Times article on the environmental, social, psychological, and financial costs of oil spills is a sobering reminder of the vast toll on people and planet when oil spills occur. As President Obama considers whether or not to approve the dirty tar sands Keystone XL pipeline, the lessons of recent heavy, Canadian crude oil disasters are grounds enough for saying no.

After three years of clean-up, the Enbridge Energy spill in the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek in Michigan is still not complete. The spill is the company’s largest. Enbridge believes that clean-up costs will approach $1 billion. The long clean-up time and staggering costs are not surprising if you consider that the more than 840,000 gallons of oil released were heavy crude that is extra difficult to clean up. As reported in the Times article, “The (Environmental Protection Agency) estimated that 180,000 had most likely drifted to the bottom, more than 100 times Enbridge’s projection.”

And more recently this past spring in Arkansas, an ExxonMobil spill of heavy, Canadian crude oil dumped approximately 210,000 gallons in a residential neighborhood. Residents, the State of Arkansas, and the Justice Department are all involved in litigation against ExxonMobil for damages.

Why would take on additional oil spill risks with heavy Canadian crude when we cannot cope with existing spills? The contamination of the natural environment endures, and as one affected resident in Michigan summed it up,” There are not enough zeros to pay us for what we’ve been through.”

President Obama, your new climate commitments demand a rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline now.

Another Symbolic House Vote for the Keystone XL

As the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline undergoes its second State Department review, the House of Representatives took yet another vote to try to force the pipeline project to move forward. On May 22, the House voted 241-175 in favor of legislation (H.R. 3) to thwart the President’s decision-making authority on the pipeline and expedite construction. The Administration has yet to announce its position on the pipeline which would further entrench our fossil fuel-based economy.

This time around the vote received less Democratic support than past, similar bills on the KXL have garnered. Nineteen Democrats supported the legislation introduced by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) and one Republican voted “present” rather than for or against the bill.

The White House has stated that it would veto the bill were the Senate to pass it. The Senate might defeat the measure if it comes to a vote – yet if it passed the Senate there are not sufficient votes to over-ride a Presidential veto.


As reported in the Daily Kos, Oil Change International found that “supporters (of the KXL legislation) have taken six times more campaign contributions from the oil industry than did the opponents, a total of $56 million.”  

Green America strongly urges President Obama to act on his commitment to addressing climate change and to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline for the sake of present and future human and environmental health. We haven’t a moment to lose in shifting to a clean energy economy.